Provo, Utah - A consortium of universities today announced the formation of a new top-tier post-season 15s rugby competition. The new competition will be called the Varsity Cup Championship (VC).
The founding universities include: Brigham Young University (Provo, UT), the University of California (Berkeley, CA), the University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT), the United States Air Force Academy (Colorado Springs, CO), Dartmouth College (Hanover, NH), the United States Naval Academy (Annapolis, MD) and the University of Notre Dame (South Bend, IN). Other founding participants may be named in a subsequent release.
The founding rugby programs have long histories as top-10 programs, with AFA, BYU and Cal being multiple-time national champions.
The mission of the VC is to provide the participating teams with a superior platform for showcasing the highest level of rugby in America and to produce a commercially attractive national invitational championship that serves the interests of players and fans alike.
The Varsity Cup Championship will be played out over three consecutive weekends beginning in the latter part of April 2013.
With its commitment to the Varsity Cup each team will remain a member in good standing with USA Rugby.
"Participation in regular season play is something that is important for Varsity Cup teams," said BYU Head Rugby Coach David Smyth. "The purpose of the Varsity Cup is to present an additional competition," he added. "We want to work with USA Rugby and the other collegiate teams to develop the quality of the collegiate game and that means remaining positive members within the collegiate rugby community and by participating in the respective regular season competitions where permissible."
Statistically, the Varsity Cup boasts the top collegiate rugby programs that own 31 of the last 33 National Championships with California boasting 26, Air Force with three of their own and BYU rounding out the group with two championships. In total, a Varsity Cup team has played for a national title every year except in 1984 when Harvard faced Colorado.
"We view this as the next logical step in the evolution of college rugby in the United States," said Smyth. "In the end, universities will always want to manage and control their own sports playoff structures, with laser focus on what's best for the college game. Rugby is no different. I fully expect that this championship will grow and evolve into what it must become to deliver a strong and marketable flagship collegiate competition."